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Friday, 4 November 2011


Christina Fernández, President of Argentina, at the G20 Summit*
Results of the Euro Summit agreed at the end of October...
1. An agreement that should secure the decline of the Greek debt to GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120% by 2020. Euro area Member States will contribute to the PSI package up to €30 billion. The nominal discount will be 50% on notional Greek debt held by private investors. A new EU-IMF multiannual programme financing up to €100 billion will be put in place by the end of the year. It will be accompanied by a strengthening of the mechanisms for the monitoring of implementation of the reforms.
2. The significant optimisation of the resources of the EFSF, without extending the guarantees underpinning the facility. The options agreed will allow the EFSF resources to be leveraged. The leverage effect of both options will vary, depending on their specific features and market conditions, but could be up to 4 or 5, which is expected to yield around €1 trillion (around $1.4 trillion). We call on the Eurogroup to finalise the terms and conditions for the implementation of these modalities in November. In addition, further cooperation with the IMF will be sought to further enhance the EFSF resources.
3. A comprehensive set of measures to raise confidence in the banking sector by (i) facilitating access to term-funding through a coordinated approach at EU level and (ii) the increase in the capital position of banks to 9% of Core Tier 1 by the end of June 2012. National supervisors must ensure that banks' recapitalisation plans do not lead to excess deleveraging.
4. An unequivocal commitment to ensure fiscal discipline and accelerate structural reforms for growth and employment. Particular efforts are being deployed by Spain. New strong commitments on structural reforms have been made by Italy. Portugal and Ireland will continue their reform programmes with the support of our crisis mechanisms.
5. A significant strengthening of economic and fiscal coordination and surveillance. A set of very specific measures, going beyond and above the recently adopted package on economic governance, will be put in place.
6. Ten measures to improve the governance of the Euro area.
7. A mandate to the President of the European Council, in close collaboration with the President of the Commission and the President of the Eurogroup, to identify possible steps to strengthen the economic union, including exploring the possibility of limited Treaty changes. An interim report will be presented in December 2011. A report on how to implement the agreed measures will be finalised by March 2012.
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In the Palais des Festivals in Cannes the Group of 20 developing and industrialized nations is discussing 3 options for how the IMF can help euro-zone governments finance their debts...

Option 1:  IMF creates Special Drawing Rights - IMF reserve assets - to be handed over to euro-zone governments. Those governments could then exchange them for euros at central banks around the world.

Option 2: Nations would put money in a trust fund administered by the IMF to ensure financial stability around the world.

Option 3: A call for governments to stop $280 billion of IMF resources - meant to be a temporary boost to deal with the crisis - being returned to government shareholders.
*the photo of the President of Argentina and Silvio Berlusconi at the G20 Summit is on today's front page of The Telegraph and is titled 'return of the leerer'
Waiting on the vote - ψήφο εμπιστοσύνης έλαβε η κυβέρνηση 
...and I hear on the radio at 2300 GMT that Papandreou has won the confidence vote he sought from his colleagues and Parliament.
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Strathnairn, Inverness-shire
I've been strolling in Strathnairn with my mother's dog Lulu. I flew from Birmingham to Inverness yesterday morning, after a supper at Henry'sin the Jewellery Quarterthe evening before with my friends Kim and Tanya. The three of us have been treating ourselves to a shared supper for over ten years, catching up with our separate news, wondering about the world. We spoke of families, of my future grandson, the world, of bankers' salaries and bonuses - Tanya said "read Oliver James' Affluenza" - of the tent village in front of St.Pauls Cathedral and 'Occupy Wall Street'...
...of a neighbour sinking into dementia, of the news that close friends had been woken in the night by police to search their son's room with the news their boy was in custody facing a prison sentence awaiting trial accused of being culpably associated with someone who'd committed a knifing, of Jamie's Great Britain - a foodie celebration of British hybridity, of a dear friend's horse breaking a leg and having to be put down, of children's marriages and about becoming grandparents, of the cost of things, of the dwindling availability of credit and its complete disappearance in Greece, of Papandreou's referendum idea...
Martin Rowson ~ Guardian 4 Nov'11
 ...of Kim's decision to buy herself an e-book after coming across the latest Kindle, of looking forward to reading P.D.James' latest book Death Comes to Pemberley, of my reading - on paper - of Merchants of Doubt recommended by my American friend Tony Scoville (I spoke of the joy of taking up conversation with him again in Corfu after 45 years) of a friend who'd changed gender a few years ago - the full op - but said she was getting "tired of trying to be a woman" and has re-grown a beard "Such a relief to stop shaving"
"But is she still wearing skirts?"
"Oh yes"
"Do you call him-her 'he' or 'she'?"
"I don't know. But it's no problem. F's always been so interesting."
Lin was at home sorting through baby clothes, bought from storage, now and then holding up one of Amy's infant dresses; exclaiming
"Aah. Just look at that! Shame it's not going to be a girl."

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My email this morning to members of the Victoria Jubilee Allotments Association:
Hi. I’ve already run this idea past Peter (Hon Treasurer, VJA Assocxition) when he was walking in Handsworth Park a couple of days ago. We, Linda and I, and 5 others with voluntary work experience in the area have inherited unpaid responsibility for the Central Handsworth Practical Care Project (CHPCP). This is a handyman/woman project that uses a modern tipper truck carrying a variety of manual and power tools (chipper, chain saw, strummer, mower, drills, chainsaw, crowbars, posthole digger, etc) to carry out a wide range of tasks for vulnerable people in Handsworth. In August 2010 the project’s manager died unexpectedly leaving the care project without clear leadership and so without the means of seeking its regular funding - from grants and payments from larger social enterprises like Housing Associations - but needing to pay taxes, insurance etc. We were approached by a local councillor and others who had been involved in the project to see if we could help get the project back on its feet doing useful work in the area.  Over the past 6 months the voluntary group which includes Linda and myself have managed to ensure the project is solvent and able - we hope - by the New Year to recommence the local services (mending locks, doors, windows, clearing gardens, laying slabs, putting up fences, helping people move in and out of their homes, doing basic work on allotments and gardens, delivering and collecting heavy objects and other loads) for which it was set up over 15 years ago. Our immediate need is to find secure storage for ‘our’ tools and parking for the tipper truck - currently at a city depot courtesy of its manager. Chatting to Peter the other day I explored the possibility of being able to park the tipper on the VJA site and store the tools in the community shed with a view, if my suggestion is approved, of working in partnership with the VJA (with approval from Birmingham Allotments Section) to make the tools and tipper available to the association as part of a quid pro quo for secure parking and storage. We are confident it will be feasible to enable members of the VJA to use the project's tools - with proper training in the case of power tools (for which there is already a precedent on site) - and even to commission jobs that require the use of the tipper (carriage of compost, manure, building materials). The project already has a tradition of working in the area and with local agencies including the council and local housing associations. We suggest that a partnership with the VJA could represent a win-win arrangement, enabling work to be done on the VJA site while continuing the handyman/woman activities of the project across the area for which the project was already well reputed. I very much hope this proposal can be given consideration, and that we might be able to enter into a trial arrangement lasting - say - up until the end of the year to see if the mutual benefits I’m suggesting can be realised. I speak for the Voluntary Advisory Group (VAG) currently managing the CHPCP. One or more of us would be more than happy to present the above proposal in person and answer questions from members of the Victoria Jubilee Allotments Association, especially from members of the committee in the first instance. I very much hope you will give this matter your sympathetic consideration. We in the VAG believe that such a partnership is very much in line with current initiatives focused on community development in hard times. Yours sincerely, Simon and Lin
I suspect our greatest difficulty will be the rule maintained by the Council that motor vehicles may not be parked overnight on its allotment sites. I shall seek to press the view that in the current situation some of the old rules are subject to change. If the prohibition that used to exist on bees and chickens on allotments has been, or is being, reconsidered, then perhaps the idea of a charitable partnership with the Care Project might not be beyond the pale.
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I took the opportunity in the early hours when cyberspace seems less busy - or is it my imagination in this 24/7 world of the web - to stream another of my stepfather's TV films; an episode - or part episode - of Jack Hargreaves' series called 'Old Country' made for Channel 4 in the early 1980s. The cameraman is Steve Wagstaff. The starting title shows my stepfather leading his grey pony 'Ghost'. As usual much gratitude to the viewer who recorded it off-air at the time of broadcast and sent it to me on a CD.
"This is the bird, or rather it's a not entirely successful plastic Italian representation of the bird, which has been known to put up the price of Brussels Sprouts in England in a week - the Wood Pigeon."
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Jim Potts 1 Nov' entry on his Corfu Blues blog summarises and links a number of announcements of next year's celebration of the centenary of the birth of Lawrence Durrell (1912–1990), THE DURRELL SCHOOL OF CORFU will host a one-week seminar Wednesday 20 – Tuesday 27 June 2012, in the Durrell School premises at 11 Filellinon Street, in the historic centre of Corfu Town. The Moderator of this seminar will be Richard Pine, founder of the Durrell School (and now Director Emeritus), and author of Lawrence Durrell: The Mindscape
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Thanassis on the Ano Korakiana website, while announcing a blood donation session at 10.00 in the Co-op on Sunday 6 Nov «Ελάτε να δώσετε ζωή με το αίμα σας», points how heavy rain has washed away the cemented terrace supporting a car-park area, a problem which, with lack of funds, is likely to affect similar constructions. He uses the problem to take a swipe at the 'culture of cement' «πολιτισμός του τσιμέντου», suggesting dry stone walls or stones bound with mortar will last longer and better than substituted cement...
Δεν άντεξε τελικά το βαρύ φορτίο του τσιμέντου που εδώ και χρόνια κουβαλάει και η παλιά πέτρινη λιθιά στη στροφή του Μπή (κατασκευής Γιάννη και Μιλτιάδη Ιωνά πριν από πολλές δεκαετίες) έπεσε, με συνέπεια την «κούφωση» του οδοστρώματος, σε ένα σημείο που σταθμεύουν αυτοκίνητα. Εάν δε, δεν υπάρξει σύντομη αποκατάσταση, η ζημιά θα μεγαλώσει με τις βροχές του χειμώνα… Έτσι, για μια ακόμη φορά, ο «πολιτισμός του τσιμέντου» υποχωρεί, παρασέρνοντας μαζί του την παλιά μαστορική της πέτρας, που όταν μένει ανενόχλητη επιδεικνύει μεγάλες αντοχές στο χρόνο…

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